Peace or the sword (Mt 10:34-10:34)

“Do not think

That I have come

To bring peace

To the earth.

I have not come

To bring peace,

But a sword.”

 

Μὴ νομίσητε ὅτι ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν· οὐκ ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἀλλὰ μάχαιραν.

 

This verse of Matthew is similar to Luke, chapter 12:51, indicating a Q source.  Luke said that Jesus had come to bring division, not a sword, like here.  Jesus was a disrupter.  They should not think (Μὴ νομίσητε) that Jesus has come to bring peace on earth (ὅτι ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν).  He has not come to bring peace (οὐκ ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην), but quite the opposite, to bring the sword (ἀλλὰ μάχαιραν), much like the Old Testament Hebrew prophets, especially Ezekiel, chapter 38:21.  The sword meant war not peace.  Jesus was not a peacemaker, but a sign of contraction.

The failure of the future false prophets (Zech 13:3-13:6)

“If any prophets appear again,

Their fathers,

With their mothers who bore them,

Will say to them.

‘You shall not live.

You speak lies

In the name of Yahweh!’

Their fathers,

With their mothers who bore them,

Shall pierce them through

When they prophesy.

On that day,

The prophets,

Every one of them,

Will be ashamed

Of their visions

When they prophesy.

They will not put on

A hairy mantle

In order to deceive.

But each of them will say.

‘I am no prophet.

I am a tiller of the soil.

The land has been my possession

Since my youth.’

If anyone asks them.

‘What are these wounds

On your chest?’

The answer will be.

‘I received

These wounds

In the house of my friends.’”

Yahweh warned, via Zechariah, that future prophets would not fare well.  Fathers and mothers who had children who wanted to become prophets were told to tell them that they are lying in the name of Yahweh.  In fact, these young men were not to live, since their parents would kill them with a sword.  All the prophets would be ashamed.  They would not wear their normal prophetic hairy coats.  Instead, they would pretend to be farmers.  If anyone wanted to know why they had cuts on their chests like prophets, they would say that their friends had done it.  Clearly, this was the end of institutional prophecy.  The very few remaining prophets would be afraid to be pointed out, since they might be put to death.

Against Edom (Am 1:11-1:12)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘For three transgressions

Of Edom,

And for four,

I will not revoke

The punishment.

Because he pursued

His brother

With the sword.

He cast off all pity.

He maintained

His anger perpetually.

He kept his wrath forever.

So,

I will send a fire

On Teman.

It shall devour

The strongholds of Bozrah.’”

Edom was southeast of Judah and south of the Dead Sea. Yahweh, via Amos, invoked the same language as he had used against Damascus, the Philistines, and Tyre. He used the same numeric formula of 3 and 4, like in Proverbs, chapter 30. Edom was considered a brother of Israel, because its founder was Esau, the twin brother of Jacob. Edom had tried to kill the Israelites with a sword. They had no pity, since they were perpetually angry. Thus, Yahweh was going to send fire down on Teman, either a tribe or small village in Edom. He was also going to devour the fortress in Bozrah, the capital city of Edom, in present day Jordan.

The dragon and Daniel (Dan 14:23-14:26)

“Now in that place,

There was a great dragon

That the Babylonians revered.

The king said

To Daniel.

‘You cannot deny

That this is a living god.

So,

Worship him!’

Daniel said.

‘I will worship

The Lord,

My God.

He is the living God.

But give me permission!

O king!

I will kill the dragon

Without a sword,

Without a club.’

The king said.

‘I give you permission.’”

Daniel now will take on the great nameless dragon god, that the king and the Babylonians revered. The king pointed out that this dragon was surely a living god worthy of worship. Daniel once again announced that he was only going to worship the Lord, his living God. However, he wanted permission from the king to kill the dragon, without using a club or a sword. The king then gave him permission to do so.

The sentinel sounds the trumpet (Ezek 33:3-33:3)

“If the sentinel

Sees

The sword coming

Upon the land,

He blows the trumpet.

He warns the people.”

This was pretty simple. The role of the sentinel or the watch person was to sound the trumpet if he saw the enemy coming with a sword into the land. He then warned the people about the impending danger. The Jehovah Witness Christian group have a magazine that they distribute called the “Watch Tower.”

Both arms of Pharaoh broken (Ezek 30:22-29:22)

“Therefore,

Thus says Yahweh God!

‘I am against Pharaoh,

King of Egypt.

I will break

His arms,

Both the strong arm

With the one

That was broken.

I will make

The sword

Fall

From his hand.’”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, was clearly against Pharaoh. He was going to break both his arms, the one already broken as well as the good one. Thus the king of Egypt would not be able to hold a sword in his hand since he would become ineffective.

The broken arm of the Pharaoh (Ezek 30:20-30:21)

“In the eleventh year,

In the first month,

On the seventh day

Of the month,

The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

I have broken

The arm of Pharaoh,

King of Egypt.

It has not been

Bound up

For healing.

It has not been

Wrapped

with a bandage.

Thus it cannot

Become strong

To wield the sword.’”

Once again there is a precise date for this oracle of Yahweh to Ezekiel, the son of man, the 7th day of the 1st month of the 11th year of King Zedekiah, in 587 BCE. Yahweh said that he had broken the arm of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. Once it was broken, it was not going to heal. His broken arm was not bound up, wrapped up, or bandaged. He was not going to become strong enough to wield a sword. In other words, the Pharaoh would be useless in the face of any battle.

Against the Israelite mountain high places (Ezek 6:1-6:3)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

Set your face

Toward the mountains

Of Israel!

Prophesy against them!

Say!

You mountains of Israel!

Hear the word of Yahweh God!

Thus says Yahweh God

To the mountains,

To the hills,

To the ravines,

To the valleys.

I!

I myself!

Will bring a sword

Upon you.

I will destroy

Your high places.’”

The oracles or words of Yahweh came to Ezekiel, the son of man, personally. He was to prophesy against the mountains of Israel. Yahweh gave him the words to say to the mountains. However, there was an extension from just the mountains to include the hills, the ravines, and even the valleys. Yahweh himself was going to bring a sword, in order to destroy all the high places, where the worship or cultic practices for the various false gods, particularly Baal, took place.

The famine in Jerusalem (Ezek 5:16-5:17)

“I will let loose

Against you

My deadly arrows

Of famine.

These are the arrows

For destruction.

I will let them loose

To destroy you.

I will bring more and more

Famine upon you.

I will break your staff

Of bread.

I will send famine.

I will send wild animals

Against you.

They will rob you

Of your children.

Pestilence

With bloodshed

Shall pass

Through you.

I will bring the sword

Upon you.

I!

Yahweh!

Have spoken!”

Yahweh said that he was going to let loose his deadly arrows against Jerusalem. He was going to hit them with the arrows of famine. This would destroy them. He was going to bring more and more famine to them. He was going to break their staff of bread, their basic staple food. He was going to send wild animals against them and their children. Pestilence and bloodshed would pass through them like a sword. There was no question, Yahweh had spoken.

The division of Ezekiel’s hair into thirds (Ezek 5:2-5:4)

“One third of the hair,

You shall burn

In the fire

Inside the city,

When the days

Of the siege

Are completed.

One third of the hair,

You shall take

To strike

With the sword

All around the city.

One third of the hair,

You shall scatter

To the wind.

I will unsheathe

The sword after them.

Then you shall take

From these

A small number.

You shall bind them

In the skirts

Of your robe.

From these,

Again,

You shall take some.

You shall throw them

Into the fire.

You shall burn them up.

From there a fire

Will come out

Against all the house of Israel.”

Ezekiel was to divide his shaved hair into thirds. He would burn one third of his shaved hair in a fire inside the city, when the siege days of Jerusalem were over. He was to strike with a sword all around the city another third of his shaved hair. This was kind of vague. The final third would be scattered to the wind, which is pretty simple. Yahweh was going to take a sword after them. The left over hair fragments were to be bound into the skirts of their robes. Finally, anything still not used up would be thrown into a burning fire. This fire indicated how fire would come against all the house of Israel. There was a symbolic purpose to the dividing of Ezekiel’s hair.